Holy Week is the most important week in our Church liturgical calendar. It is the last week of Lent. It will proceed to Easter Sunday and Easter season. Holy Week is observed in our Church as a time to commemorate in a special way the life, death and resurrection of Jesus through various observances and services of worship.
Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday, commemorates Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday as we celebrate Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem. The gospels speak that the people of Jerusalem spread palm branches on the road to welcome Jesus as he rode a donkey into the city. Because of this, we use palm branches as we enter the church on Palm Sunday.
For us Catholics, the Triduum is the three-day period that concludes Lent and introduces us to the joy of Easter season. It starts with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on the evening of Holy Thursday, continuing through the Good Friday service and Holy Saturday and concluding with vespers (evening prayer) on Easter Sunday. The Easter Triduum marks the most significant events of Holy Week.
Holy Thursday (also called Maundy Thursday), is the day on which Catholics commemorate the institution of the three pillars of the Catholic Faith: the sacrament of Holy Communion, Priesthood and the Mass. On Holy Thursday, the priests of each diocese gather with their bishops to consecrate holy oils, which are used throughout the year for the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick. In our Archdiocese the consecration of the Holy Oils took place on 5 April at Church of St Thomas, Kuantan.
Good Friday – We observe Good Friday, “Great and Holy Friday”, as the day when Jesus was arrested, crucified, died, and was buried. On Good Friday, we should abstain from meat or refrain from food altogether. Since there is no Mass, therefore no Hosts are consecrated. Instead, Hosts that were reserved from the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday are distributed to the faithful.
Holy Saturday – This is the seventh day of the week, the day Jesus rested in the tomb. In the first three Gospel accounts this was the Jewish Sabbath, which provided appropriate symbolism of the seventh day rest. It is traditionally a day of quiet meditation as we contemplate the darkness of a world without a future and without hope apart from God and his grace. It is also a time to remember family and the faithful who have died as we await the resurrection, or to honor the martyrs who have given their lives for the cause of Christ in the world.
Easter Sunday – Easter is the most important Christian celebration, surpassing even Christmas. It is a celebration of the day Jesus rose from the dead, Easter symbolises forgiveness, rebirth, and God’s saving power. Christians view the day as victory over sin, death, and all destructive forces in people’s lives.
As we get closer and closer to Easter we need to reflect on our discipleship to teach, build faith, grow spiritually and evangelise. Many of you have attended many formations these past three months in our parish. The next will be our Novenas and Feast of St Joseph. This will commence on 22nd April till 1st May. I hope that all of you will be touched by the sub-themes and preaching during the Novenas and inspire your individual faith life. May these novenas and feast day celebration make us become more alive in the Catholic faith.
Fr. George Packiasamy